Students at the 532nd Training Squadron work with one of four new Air Launch Cruise Missile Simulators that replaced worn-out equipment. (Air Force)
Wear and tear is a common problem for military equipment, but it also plagues the very simulators trainees learn on. Replacing these trainers can be a lengthy process, evidenced by new Air Launch Cruise Missile simulators that took more than five years to get to students at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The simulators were requested in 2007 but faced a series of delays, according to Barbara Lefebvre, training manager for the 532nd Squadron. The sims were finally put in use in late March after an operating test evaluation.
The connectors and mechanical systems in the previous set of sims were worn down — rather that outdated — from years of use by training crews and students, said Staff Sgt. Thomas Garcia, a training instructor with the squadron.
New simulators mean students can now do proper electrical checks on the missiles because the trainers have working systems. Students will also practice the skills they will need in the field, such as changing out components of the missile and making sure those components work properly.
The missile simulators have been in need of an update since well before 2007, according to the squadron’s superintendent. He noted a need to replace or change the sims when he was an instructor at Vandenberg in 1996, according to an Air Force article.
Many aging simulators may continue to wait for refurbishment or replacement as the Air Force cuts spending and directs funds to what are deemed priority projects.